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Volume 4, Issue 3: 213-222 (2014)

ISSN-2252-0430

System in Expansive Soil

Saad F. Ibrahim*1, Ala Nasir Aljorany2 and Ahmad Ibrahim Aladly3

1

Assistant Professor, Department of Highway and Transportation, College of Engineering, Al-Mustansiriya University, Baghdad, Iraq

Professor, Civil Engineering Department, College of Engineering, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq

3

Lecturer, Civil Engineering Department, College of Engineering, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq

2

when water is added to them and then shrink with loss of

water. Foundations constructed on such clays are

subjected to large uplifting forces caused by swelling.

These forces induce heaving, cracking, and the breakup

of both building foundations and slab-on-grade members

(Das, 2011). Expansive soil is a term applied to any soil

that undergo detrimental changes in volume because of

variations in moisture content. These soils subject to

cycles of wetting-drying and swell when taking up water

during wet seasons and shrink because of evaporation of

water in dry spells (Chen, 1988, Nelson - Miller, 1992).

Such soils are considered natural hazards that pose

challenges to civil engineers, construction firms, and

owners. Based on (Chen, 1988) the six major natural

hazardous are earthquakes, landslides, expansive soils,

hurricanes, tornados and floods. Over the last four

decades, relentless efforts were made to understand and

solve the problems associated with engineering on

expansive soils. Several methods can be used to

minimize the effect of the damage caused by expansive

soils. These include soil replacement, physical &

chemical treatment and use of special techniques. The

application of these methods will keep intact over a long

period of time. Many of them, however, have certain

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

INTRODUCTION

Accepted 03 Oct. 2013

ABSTRACT: Granular Pile Anchor (GPA) is one of the innovative foundation techniques, devised for

mitigating heave of footing resulting from the expansive soils. This research attempts to study the heave

behavior of (GPA-Foundation System) in expansive soil. Laboratory tests have been conducted on an

experimental model in addition to a series of numerical modelling and analysis using the finite element

package PLAXIS software. The effects of different parameters, such as (GPA)length (L) and diameter

(D), footing diameter (Df), expansive clay layer thickness (H) and presence of non-expansive clay are

studied. The results proved the efficiency of GPA in reducing the heave of expansive soil and showed that

the heave can be reduced with increasing length and diameter of GPA. The heave of (GPA-Foundation

System) is controlled by three independent variables these are (L/D) ratio, (L/H) ratio and (Df/D) ratio.

The heave can be reduced by up to (38 %) when (GPA) is embedded in expansive soil layer at (L/H=1)

and reduced by about (90 %) when GPA is embedded in expansive soil and extended to non-expansive

clay (stable zone) at (L/H=2) at the same diameter of GPA and footing. An equation (mathematical

mode1) was obtained by using the computer package (SPSS 17.0) for statistical analysis based on the

results of finite element analysis relating the maximum heave of (GPA-Foundation System) as a function

of the above mentioned three independent variables with coefficient of regression of (R 2 = 92.3 %).

Keywords: Expansive Soil; Sand; Heave; Granular Pile Anchor (GPA); Foundation; PLAXIS; Finite

Element.

Shamrani, 2012). Keeping these shortcomings in view,

an attempt to develop a simple, easy to install and costeffective alternative foundation system, this research

presents a simple foundation technique in the name of

GPA foundation system as a dependable solution to

suppress or tolerate heaving developed by expansive

soils.

Concept of (GPA-foundation system)

GPA is an innovative foundation technique,

devised for mitigating heave of expansive clay and

improving their engineering behaviour. It is a

modification of the conventional granular pile, wherein

an anchor is provided in the pile to render it tensionresistant. Granular piles are a well-known ground

improvement technique used for reducing the settlement

and increasing load-carrying capacity of soft clay beds

(Hughes and Withers, 1974). In a granular pile anchor,

the foundation is anchored at the bottom of the granular

pile to an anchored steel plate with the help of a mild

steel road. This renders the granular pile tension-resistant

and enables it to offer resistance to the uplift force

exerted on the foundation by the swelling soil

(Phanikumar, 1997, Phanikumar et al., 2004, Rao et al.,

2007, Phanikumar et al., 2008). Figure 1 shows a typical

schematic representation of the fundamental concept of

To cite this paper: Ibrahim S.F., Aljorany A.N. and Aladly A.I. 2014. Heave Behavior of Granular Pile Anchor-Foundation (GPA-Foundation) System in Expansive Soil. J.

Civil Eng. Urban., 4 (3): 213-222.

Journal homepage: http://www.ojceu.ir/main/

213

The uplift force (PUplift) acting on the base of the

foundation in the vertical direction is due to the swelling

pressure (Ps) of the expansive soil. This uplift force is

resisted by the weight of the granular pile (W) acting in

the downward direction. The friction mobilized along the

pile-soil interface also resists the upward movement of

the foundation. This friction is generated mainly because

of the anchor in the system. The upward resistance is

further augmented by the lateral swelling pressure,

which confines the granular pile anchor radially,

increases the friction along the pile-soil interface, and

prevents it from being uplifted (Phanikumar, 1997,

Phanikumar et al., 2004, Rao et al., 2007, Phanikumar et

al., 2008).

models.

Experimental Works

The expansive clay used in this investigation was

collected from Al-Wahda Discrete at Al-Mosul

governorate in the north of Iraq, from a depth of about

(1-1.5) m below the ground level. A series of rotten

laboratory tests was carried out on the expansive soil

samples to obtain physical, mechanical, and swelling soil

properties. Table 1 and Figures 2 - 7 shows the

properties of expansive soil used.

The granular material used for the installation of

the granular piles was dense sand with (75 %) relative

density. Table 2 and Figures 8 and 9 show the properties

of sand used.

Table 1. Summary of Physical, Mechanical & Chemical

Properties of Expansive Soil Used

System and Forces acting on a Granular Pile Anchor

(GPA) (After Rao et al., 2007)

Objectives

Due to limited knowledge currently available in

the literature about GPA, the present study is an attempt

aiming at insight understanding to the behavior and

performance of GPA in expansive soils in reduce the

heave. The following aspects are covered:

1- The behaviour of GPA-Foundation System

under heave.

2- The validity and suitability of GPA as a

dependable solution for problems in expansive soils.

Different parameters will be investigated that

would be count for in the design of GPA, such as GPA

length (L), diameter (D), expansive soil layer thickness

(H), shallow footing diameter (Df), (L/D) ratio, (L/H)

ratio, (Df/D) ratio and presence of non-expansive soil.

Properties of Sand Dunes Used

The study is divided into two phases including:

1- Experimental Phase: A cylindrical physical

steel model with (30 cm) diameter and (50 cm) height

has been built up and planned experimental laboratory

testing program has been performed on expansive soil

bed prepared from silty clayey soil.

2- Numerical Phase: A numerical model has

been used and solved to analyze the described problem

in the field. A software finite element program PLAXIS

2D-Version 8.2 packages is used to solve such problem

To cite this paper: Ibrahim S.F., Aljorany A.N. and Aladly A.I. 2014. Heave Behavior of Granular Pile Anchor-Foundation (GPA-Foundation) System in Expansive Soil. J.

Civil Eng. Urban., 4 (3): 213-222.

Journal homepage: http://www.ojceu.ir/main/

214

Used According to (USCS)

(Free Swelling Test)

According to (USCS)

Expansive Soil Used (Swelling Pressure & Consolidation Test)

Expansive Soil Used

Expansive Soil Used

According to (USCS) Expansive Soil Used

Sand Used

To cite this paper: Ibrahim S.F., Aljorany A.N. and Aladly A.I. 2014. Heave Behavior of Granular Pile Anchor-Foundation (GPA-Foundation) System in Expansive Soil. J.

Civil Eng. Urban., 4 (3): 213-222.

Journal homepage: http://www.ojceu.ir/main/

215

container of (0.3 m) diameter and (0.5 m) height. The

expansive soil bed is prepared firstly by laying a filter

paper covered with thin layer (30 mm) of poorly graded

sand, as a drainage layer. All internal sides of container

are covered with petroleum jelly to diminish friction

effect. After thorough mixing with water, the soil lumps

are spread inside the model container at maximum dry

unit weight of (16.3 kN/m) and optimum moisture

content of (21.5 %) which is obtained using standard

compaction test in form of eight layers. Each layer have

a compacted thickness of (5 cm) and contain (5.76 kg) of

soil to give the total depth and weight of expansive soil

inside the model container of (40 cm) and (46 kg). The

uniformity in the soil bed is checked by measuring the

unit weight and moisture content at various depths of the

soil bed. The (GPA) installed in expansive soil bed by

made a hole in the centre of the expansive soil bed

surface by driving a steel pipe gradually in specified

diameter up to the required depth. The unit of anchor rod

with the bottom anchor plate of specified diameter and

depth is placed vertically in the hole. Simultaneously, the

hole is filled with poorly graded sand gradually and

compacted gently using steel tamping rod in required

relative density (75 %). Finally, GPA is formed in

specified depth and diameter at an average dry unit

weight of (16.9 kN/m). The GPA length was varied as

(10, 20, 30, and 40) cm and the diameter as (1, 2, 3, and

4) cm to give a different ratios of (L/D). A circular mild

steel plate of (20 cm) diameter was used as the surface

shallow footing in the heave tests. A total of (16) test

was conducted for studying the heave behaviour of

(GPA-Foundation System). Figures 10 and 11 show the

experimental setup of heave test.

Heave

The soil bed is wetted gradually by adding the

water from the top and continuously pumping water

from the base of model container using water pump and

controlled valve. Water pump system is used as a

vacuum to accelerate the saturation of expansive soil bed

by continuously suction the water from model container.

The model was left under the saturation and amount of

heave is measured and continuously monitored with time

until there is no further swelling. At this stage, saturation

of soil bed is conformed and the test is completed.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

The results of unreinforced and reinforced

expansive soil bed with (GPA) are obtained as shown in

Table 3 and Figures 12 - 15. Generally, the heave

response appears non-linear behavior and increases

continuously with time until reach the equilibrium after

(7) days for unreinforced expansive soil bed and (4) days

for reinforced expansive soil bed with GPA. The results

showed that the unreinforced expansive soil attained a

final heave of (26 mm) and the heave of GPAFoundation System decreases with installation of GPA in

expansive soil. This may indicate the efficiency of

(GPA) in reducing the heave. This is in agreement with

findings of Phanikumar (1997), Phanikumar et al.

(2004), Rao et al. (2007), Phanikumar et al. (2008),

Ismail and Shahin, (2011), Krishna et al. (2013).

Table 3. Summary of the Maximum Heave of Expansive

Soil Reinforced with (GPA) Models at Different Lengths

Reinforced Expansive Soil Bed with (GPA) Models

Civil Eng. Urban., 4 (3): 213-222.

Journal homepage: http://www.ojceu.ir/main/

216

Expansive Soil with (GPA) at 1 cm Diameter

Expansive Soil with (GPA) at 4 cm Diameter

The results showed that, there are three main

variables controlling heave behavior of GPA-Foundation

System that can be categorized as [(L/D) ratio, (L/H) and

(Df/D) ratio]. The heave of GPA-Foundation System is

affected by one or all theses variable, the heave

reduction and degree of improvement increases with

increasing (L/D) ratio, (L/H) ratio and decreases with

increasing (Df/D) ratio at a given two variables. The

percentage heave reduction and degree of improvement

can be expressed as a percentage from the maximum

heave without (GPA) by the following equation:

(1)

Where:

Hvo: is the maximum heave of footing without

(GPA) reinforcement.

H'v: is the maximum heave of footing with (GPA)

reinforcement.

Expansive Soil with (GPA) at 2 cm Diameter

Expansive Soil with (GPA) at 3 cm Diameter

was observed at [(L/D=10), (L/H=0.25) and (Df/D=20)]

with (7.8 %) degree of improvement, while higher

reduction in heave was observed at [(L/D=10), (L/H=1)

& (Df/D=2.5)] with (38.1 %) degree of improvement.

This reflects the ability and efficiency of a single (GPA)

in reducing the heave when embedded in an expansive

soil and anchored to the shallow footing. This

performance agrees with the results obtained from

researchers (Phanikumar, 1997; Phanikumar et al., 2004;

Rao et al., 2007; Phanikumar et al., 2008; Krishna et al,

2013). The results of GPA-Foundation System showed

that, there is a great effect on the time of heave

development. The time period required for attaining the

final amount of heave in the case of reinforced expansive

soil with GPA was (4/7) of that for unreinforced

expansive soil. This performance agrees with the results

obtained from researchers (Phanikumar, 1997;

Phanikumar et al., 2004; Phanikumar et al., 2008).

Numerical modelling of heave of (GPAfoundation system)

In this study, PLAXIS 2D-Version 8.2 program is

used in numerical modelling and analysis of heave

problems of GPA-Foundation System. The problem

Civil Eng. Urban., 4 (3): 213-222.

Journal homepage: http://www.ojceu.ir/main/

217

soil layer reinforced with GPA models with different

length and diameter. For comparison, the circular footing

rest on the expansive soil without GPA is also modelled

here. The purpose of the problems is to calculate the

maximum heave under the footing. The expansive soil

layer is located above a layer of saturated stable clay

with (6 m) thickness. The active zone of the expansive

soil is chosen to be (4 m); at this depth, the water table

rising causes a considerable swelling in expansive soil.

Figure 16 shows the sketch of described problem.

Axisymmetric type model is chosen, it is the best option

for circular models. The soil parts are modelled using

15-node triangular element. The shallow footing and

anchor plate are modelled using plate element, while the

anchor rod is modelled using node-to-node element. The

footing diameter was fixed at (2 m), and the GPA length

was varied from (2-8) m and diameter was varied from

(0.2-0.8) m. So, the ratio of length to diameter was

ranged as (2.5 to 40) and the ratio of the footing diameter

to GPA diameter varied as (2.5 to 10). The thickness of

expansive clay layer is fixed at (4 m) and thickness of

non-expansive clay layer is fixed at (6 m), so, the ratio of

GPA length to expansive soil thickness was varied as

(0.5-2).

The boundary conditions are assumed using

standard fixity. This means a full fixity at the base of the

geometry and, roller conditions at the vertical sides.

Figure 17 shows the finite element model of heave

problems. The clay of expansive and non-expansive soil

layers are modelled using Mohr-Coulomb (MC) model,

assumed to behave in an undrained manner. The granular

pile sand is modelled using Mohr-Coulomb (MC) also. It

is assumed to behave in a drained manner. The rigid

steel is used as a material for both anchor plate, anchor

rod and shallow footing and assumed as linear elastic

model. The flexural rigidity of anchor plate, anchor rod

and footing assumed as very high to avoid unnecessary

buckling and deformation. All materials and models with

set of parameters are listed in Tables 4 and 5.

Problems

the Non-Expansive Clay Layer

Table 4. Soil Parameters set Considered for Heave

Response Problems

Response Problems

generated using the coarse setting to allow a more

accurate stress distribution as shown in Figures 18. The

swelling of expansive soil layer is modelled by applying

a positive volumetric strain of (6.5 %) to the expansive

clay cluster. In reality, the rate at which expansive clay

would normally swell depends on the location from the

source of moisture and magnitude of overburden

pressure. However, for simplicity, in the analyses

presented herein, the volumetric strain was applied

uniformly across the full thickness of the expansive soil

layer.

The numerical results of heave of unreinforced

and reinforced expansive clay with (GPA) are obtained

as shown in Table 6, and Figures 19 - 21.

The results reflect the efficiency of GPA to reduce

the heave GPA-Foundation System. The maximum

heave of footing resting on unreinforced expansive soil

with GPA is observed as (260 mm). In case of footing

resting on reinforced expansive soil with GPA models,

i.e. GPA-Foundation System, the results showed that the

maximum heave of footing decrease with increasing the

GPA size, the heave decrease with increasing (GPA)

Civil Eng. Urban., 4 (3): 213-222.

Journal homepage: http://www.ojceu.ir/main/

218

and there are three main variables controlling behaviour

of GPA-Foundation System under the heave. These

variables are (L/D) ratio, (Df/D) ratio and (L/H) ratio,

this performance in agreement with the experimental

modelling. The results also showed that, the (GPA)

could be extended to the non-expansive soil layer or

stable zone at sufficient depth to provide the anchorage

zone help the GPA to resist the heave. (69%) reduction

in heave when single GPA embedded in the expansive

soil depth layer and (90.4 %) reduction in heave can be

obtained when single GPA embedded in expansive clay

layer and extended into non-expansive clay layer at the

same embedded length.

Table 6. Summary of the Maximum Heave of

Unreinforced & Expansive Soil Reinforced with (GPA)

Models at Different Lengths and Diameters

Displacement (m) Distribution Resulting from the Heave

for (GPA at L=8 m & D=0.8 m)

Maximum Heave (Hv'/Hvo) & (L/D) Ratio of (GPA) for

Different Ratios of (Df/D) - (L/D) Ratio Effect

Distribution Resulting from the Heave for Unreinforced

Expansive

(m) Distribution Resulting from the Heave for (GPA at L=2 m

& D=0.8 m)

Maximum Heave (Hv'/Hvo) & (L/H) Ratio of (GPA) for

Different Ratios of (Df/D) - (L/H) Ratio Effect

The efficiency of the (GPA-Foundation System)

in arresting the heave induced by expansive soil layer is

illustrated in Figure 22. The figure relates the normalized

maximum heave ratio (Hv'/Hvo) with (L/D) ratio of GPA

for different ratios of (Df/D), where (H v') represent the

maximum heave of footing with (GPA) reinforcement,

while (Hvo) represent the maximum heave of footing

without GPA reinforcement. It can be noted that for a

given (Df/D) ratio, the maximum heave decrease with

increasing (L/D) ratio due to increasing (GPA) length.

This means the (GPA) movement strongly dependent on

the (GPA) size; the ability of the system to resist various

rates of swelling seems to improve with increasing the

Civil Eng. Urban., 4 (3): 213-222.

Journal homepage: http://www.ojceu.ir/main/

219

experimental works, this attributed to the anchorage

action (GPA) that resulting from (GPA) weight and

shear stress mobilized along (GPA) body, of them

increases when (GPA) size increases. The heave can be

reduced from (260 mm to 25 mm) at (L=8 m & D=0.8

m) i.e., (L/D=10) with (90.4 %) reduction in heave.

Figure 23 displays the relationship between

normalized maximum heave ratio (Hv'/Hvo) with (L/H)

ratio for different (Df/D) ratios. It can be seen that for a

given (Df/D) ratio, the heave decreases when (L/H)

increases due to increasing the (GPA) length. Dramatic

reducing in heave was observed when (GPA) penetrated

in non-expansive clay layer at sufficient length, this

means the (GPA) can be penetrate the non-expansive

clay layer (stable zone) to provide a sufficient anchorage

in the base of (GPA) help it in arresting the heave. This

behaviour can be attributed to increase the shear

resistance in circumference of penetrate length of (GPA).

The results showed that, the (GPA) could be extended to

non-expansive clay layer with thickness not less than

thickness of expansive clay layer thickness to provide a

sufficient anchorage at (GPA) base. The heave dropped

from (260 mm) to (25 mm) when (L/H=2) at (D=0.8 m

& L=8 m) with (90.4 %) reduction in heave, while, the

heave reduced to (204 mm) when (L/H=0.5) and to (81

mm) when (L/H=1) at the same size of GPA with (21.54

%) & (69 %) reduction in heave respectively.

Figure 24 shows the relationship between

normalized maximum heave ratio (Hv'/Hvo) and (Df/D)

ratio for different ratios of (L/H). The figure presents the

effect of the footing diameter (Df) on the heave response

of (GPA- Foundation System). It can be seen that for a

given (L/H) ratio, the maximum heave increases with

increasing (Df/D) ratio due to increasing footing

diameter. The reason of this behaviour can be

understood as the following: when the footing diameter

increases with constant (GPA) diameter, the annular area

of the footing on which the swelling pressure acts is

increased resulting increases in the heave of the (GPAFoundation System). Dramatic reduction in heave can be

obtained at (Df/D=2.5), where the heave reduced from

(260 mm to 25 mm) with (90.4 %) reduction in heave.

Mathematical Modelling of Heave of (GPAfoundation system)

An attempt is made to develop a mathematical

modelling relate the heave of footing resting on

reinforced expansive soil with a single (GPA) with three

effective variables (L/D), (Df/D) and (L/H). The results

of finite element analysis are merged and entered in a

multiple linear regressions statistical analysis using

SPSS Statistics 17.0 to develop a mathematical model

that relates the ratio of (Hv'/Hvo) as a dependent variable

to (L/D), (Df/D) and (L/H) as independent variables. A

general equation relates all variables were obtained in

the following form with very good degree of correlation

(R2=0.923):

Where:

Hvo: Maximum heave without (GPA) reinforcement

Hv': Maximum heave of with (GPA) reinforcement

L: Length of (GPA)

D: Diameter of (GPA)

H: Depth of expansive soil layer

Df: Diameter of shallow footing

The derived equation is valid within the ranges of

the variables they were developed from. The ranges of

variables can be seen in Table 7. To verify the validity of

the equation, the predicted values of heave are compared

with observed values obtained previously from

laboratory test results as shown in Table 8 and Figure 25.

It can be seen that, the values agree well with

(98 %)

degree of correlation and consider under estimation,

conforming the validity of derived equation.

Table 7. Variables Limitation for the Heave Equation

Observed Heave

Maximum Heave (Hv'/Hvo) & (Df/D) Ratio of (GPA) for

Different Ratios of (L/H) - (Df/D) Ratio Effect

Observed Heave of (GPA-Foundation System)

Civil Eng. Urban., 4 (3): 213-222.

Journal homepage: http://www.ojceu.ir/main/

220

CONCLUSION

An extensive laboratory testing and numerical

modelling and analysis was conducted to study the

performance of Granular Pile Anchor (GPA) in

expansive soil. The research work focuses on studying

the efficacy and ability of the innovative (GPA) system

in minimizing heave of foundations laid on expansive

clay. The conclusions drawn from the different aspects

of the study in this paper may be summarized as follows:

1- Installation of (GPA) in expansive soil reduces

the amount of heave effectively. Of the various

combinations of length (L) and diameter (D) of (GPA),

the amount of heave reduces with increasing both length

and diameter.

2- The maximum heave of (GPA-Foundation

System) is controlled by three main independent

variables, (GPA) length to diameter (L/D) ratio, (GPA)

length to expansive soil active thickness (L/H) ratio and

footing diameter to (GPA) diameter (Df/D) ratio.

3- The efficacy of (GPA) in reducing the heave

can be improved when (GPA) embedded in expansive

soil layer and extend to non-expansive clay layer (stable

zone) at sufficient depth. The maximum of about (38 %)

reduction in heave is observed when (GPA) embedded in

expansive soil layer at (L=H) and reaches to (90.4%) at

(L=2H) i.e. (GPA) extend to stable zone at length equal

to thickness of expansive soil layer, this performance

was observed at (L/D=10) and (Df/D=2.5).

4- Reduction in (GPA-Foundation System) can be

attributed to the (GPA) weight, the frictional resistance

mobilized along the (GPA)-soil face, the effect of

anchorage which made the (GPA) to resist the uplift

force applied on the foundation. In addition, the

developed lateral swelling pressure resulting from

surrounding expansive clay which confines the (GPA)

radially increases the upward resistance.

5- Installation of (GPA) in expansive soil reduces

the time of heave and the rate of heave become faster.

The expansive soil reinforced with (GPA) adjusted

quickly to moisture changes because of the higher

permeability of the granular material. The high

permeability characteristics of (GPA) allowed a quick

circulation and absorption of water and the path of radial

inflow of water became shorter, which led to a rather

quick attainment of the final heave.The time period

required for attaining the final amount of heave in the

case of reinforced expansive soil with (GPA) was (3/7)

of that for unreinforced expansive soil.

6- An equation is obtained to calculate the

maximum heave of (GPA-Foundation System). The

equation is derived basing on statistical analysis of the

obtained analysis results.

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